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Controversial Crossroads TIF On Hold After Rapid Advance

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Controversial tax breaks for a building in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District advanced two days in a row but it will be at least another week before the full city council makes its final decision on it.

Until this week, the $5.2 million TIF for the new headquarters of architecture firm BNIM was on hold until after the first of the year at the insistence of the Kansas City Public Schools and parents in the district. 

The school district and the parents group said the schools could not afford the loss of tax revenue they had previously agreed to.

But after Mayor Sly James replaced one member of the TIF commission, that body voted Tuesday by a one-vote margin to end the delay.

Wednesday, the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee concluded that the TIF itself is already approved, agreeing with Jerry Riffel, the lawyer for the developer.

Riffel argued that for every TIF two ordinances are introduced. One is to approve the TIF plan, and for each project area that is anticipated to receive the benefit of tax increment financing there is a second ordinance.

The second ordinance, he said, is called the “activating ordinance” in the development community, and merely starts the clock running on the tax breaks on a particular part of the project. 

Riffel said the TIF plan for the entire 17th Street area, including the building that is to be renovated for BNIM, was approved by a previous council in 2008.

The second, “activating” ordinance for the building in question was also introduced at that time but placed on hold pending specific physical redevelopment plans the council could approve – plans that were not finalized until this year.

The committee voted to bring the activating ordinance out of its limbo status and send it to the full council with the recommendation, “advance and do pass.”

The original 2008 activating ordinance was reintroduced in the Thursday council legislative session, but then without further discussion it was placed on hold until December 10th.

Steve Bell is afternoon news anchor and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or at steveb@kcur.org


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